Acupuncture may be defined as the insertion of fine gauge, sterile needles into specific points on the body to help to restore balance to the body and allow it to heal itself. In this way, acupuncture can serve as symptomatic treatment for illness while also working at the root of the disease. This technique has been used as preventive medicine and to treat many ailments in veterinary practice in China for at least 3,000 years.
Acupuncture is used all over the world, either by itself or in conjunction with Western medicine. It is used to treat a wide variety of maladies in every species of domestic animals and in exotic animals. Acupuncture is not a cure-all, but can be of great benefit if conventional medicine is not working well, you are having undesirable side effects, or where surgery is not feasible. It has the potential to enhance the effects in patients responding well to conventional medical treatments.
According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is the result of an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy and thereby assist the body to heal.
There are certain specific points on the body that when stimulated with a needle, have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological mechanisms in the body. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid). It can also decrease pain and inflammation and bring about faster wound healing.
The insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy. In rare cases, acupuncture treatment may cause some sensation, such as tingles, cramps or numbness which may be uncomfortable to some animals.
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian. After treatment you may notice lethargy, calmness or immediate improvement of their condition. Some pets’ conditions deteriorate temporarily before improving.
The principles of underlying veterinary acupuncture ultimately rely on the patient’s own ability to heal. All animals require adequate nutrition, appropriate exercise and rest as an adjunct to the healing process.